Saturday, September 28, 2013

Frost on Pumpkins



The September harvest moon came. I saw it floating above San Fransisco from the hills of coastal Marin. The moonlight kept me awake for days, but the lack of sleep didn't effect my energy. Awake for zazen, awake for harvest. Darkness would come, awake for hours! 

The mornings pulled frosty breath from cold throats.The fog migrated somewhere else. Our bone dry ground wasn't good habitat anymore. Bitter sweet to see clear skies, feel a hot afternoon sun above thirsty crops. Hopefully rain will come soon. 

And when the rain comes, some go. Seven apprentices, four staff, one elder, one manager, each turn over into something different as the fall sets in and the winter approaches. Some apprentices will enter the practice period, our annual tradition of Ango, inherited from the Buddha's time during the monsoons of India. Some will head off to other farms. 

Being comprised of so much water, I wonder how much pull the moon has on us. Like tides that come in and go out, and like lakes in the north that flip before they freeze, we transform. I wonder what's going on in the zendo, in the dark. What threads of our being is the moon weaving?
The tension is palpable. Everyone is sick of being asked about the future, but are quietly considering or fretting about it, while temple advisors try and get answers; who will be here? who will sleep in the zendo for our 45+ practice period with Tenshin Roshi? Who will staff the kitchen, the farm, the guest crew? 

So, as a farm, we continue to plant and harvest, hoe and weed, and start to celebrate the transition. First, the harvest dinner and dance. Next, the Greens dinner, at our affliated restrurant in the city. And daily we gather after work to sing songs, play games, make pies, and rest. 

Next spring seven new apprentices will appear. It will be my 3rd season on the farm, my last before I head south to our monastery, Tassajara. I'll be sad to leave this sacred valley of holy soil. They say a priest in this lineage needs to do at least two practice periods at Tassajara. I suggest they add a requirement to do a season on the farm, where birth and death become painfully obvious, and the schedule isn't marked by metal bells and wooden hans, but full moons and coyote cries and the showing of plants who need water and compost, air and light. 

Harvest Dinner 2013

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Troubled Male Ally



Comment sections: what a hell realm, what a hungry ghost realm. I think of Kosho who once said, "Hey, you know how you feel like you have to make a work circle announcement? Don't worry, you don't."

Hey, you know how you feel like you just have to say something in a comment section? Don't worry, you don't. Actually, if I really, really, really feel like I have to say something I should just wait ten days and see how it sounds then. Because it's exhausting to ride the wheel of internet samsara. 

Remember this? Can A Man Be A Feminist? Well, I went back there to look at this: The Trouble With Male Allies. It was pretty good, except when it said this:

"I, of course, see this often as men try to comment here on this site by authoritatively stating “AS A FEMINIST______,” demanding that we lend him more credibility in these discussions because he self-identifies as an ally. These men tend to be become quickly irate when you tell them that their opinion on feminism or what is wrong with feminist ideology isn’t of much concern."

When I was called a Douche bag on Feminist Current ...

WAIT I'm sorry, no one actually called ME a douche bag, it went more like this:

Me:"I'm a feminist"
Comment: "Men can't be feminists"
Meghan: "Men who call themselves feminists are douche bags"

I've been told over and over again that Meghan didn't mean me. I have a really tough time seeing this and I give up. Maybe I need to rework my neural path ways. 

Anyway, when I was offended on Feminist Current, I didn't say anything but, "I bow out." And then I read that men who are called out when identifying as feminists are "irate?"  So I say: 

"I didn’t fight you all when I was attacked here and called a douche bag (self hate much?). I just left. Your logic is extreme, provocative, and has made you extremely popular. Congratulations.
However, what are you doing to, beyond a demagogic symbolic rally cry, to challenge patriarchy? Is calling me a douche bag using the the masters tools to destroy the masters house? or is it just another polarizing misstep that cuts resistances of common goal off from each other?
You and DGR can “keep it real” while the land base goes to shit, as I’m not REALLY interested in our phenomenal expressions of man and woman. It’s simple: Patriarchy, capitalism, ecocide= not one frog left standing."
Red Legged Frog Lover,
Kogen

You know, they really thought the frog add in was over the top, but I still disagree; there are even less Red Legged Frogs then there are male allies, and at least we can learn to speak human languages. 

Secondly, I said something about the effectiveness of the feminist movement. 

Right here, I'd like to extend my criticism that Nothing Is Getting Done to all movements. How do I know this? Because when I go to a protest the cops bring their guns and I have to leave mine at home. Okay, so I don't have a gun, but what I mean to say is that we are still facilitating the down hill flow of violence...My dad always said don't bring a knife to a gunfight...you know what I brought to the last "gun fight"? A sun flower. Then I "risked" arrest, only widely "escaping" as it took police at least an hour to arrest 20 people (though over 200 patient ones "succeeded"). Feminism included, all these movements seem to populate the board with pawns against a kingdom of queens, or rooks, or some fast moving powerful piece. So please, yes, we're building culture, we're educating ourselves and others, but largely things remain unchanged. The only real change I've seen is mutation: we have a black man in office who is known in the papers as the "king of drones." Drone strikes, brown person dropping bombs on other brown people. Why should white men alone be suspect? I say be wary of all in power. 

Lastly, about DGR, my awakening movement, to who I owe my approach to activism, I mean how did the leadership make such a huge deal about the transgendered issue that Aric left.  This, after my experience with Austin, TX chapter collapsing (with no response from the founder, nor anyone I talked to from DGR) and that the Bay Area chapter is non existent (I think? Can't find anything. Spoke to a DGR table person last year in Berkeley and he said there was nothing going) I can say that DGR seems like a cluster fuck. Great hearts, rallied the eco warrior spirit, but fell into the same in house fighting they warned against. I still love them, but good god. 

And about the transgendered issue, why couldn't the non-cis women just stand down and accept that cis-women wanted their own space? My personal policy is that if someone feels uncomfortable with my presence, I'll give them space. No justification necessary. It's not about me, or transgendered women, it's about some humans that want a space they feel comfortable in. 

Given that, I reject that transgender is a post modern manifestation and a coup of gender co-opters. That's some Scientology shit right there. Transgender has roots that reach back 3000 years. Hell, 9/8 of our Buddhist statuary looks trans and manifest as male, female, non-male, non-female. 

And that's what I learned in the hell realm of Feminist Current. And I'm thankful. There are so many mean spirited comments over there directed at me, at least 10 people can't be wrong; there's something for me to look at. 
1. I mansplained ( in clever enough way that I didn't notice and no one else called it our either-the worst)
2. Why do people have to voice they're not comfortable for me to leave on my own accord?
3. I derailed the main point of the blog post (which is actually a very good post).

Yeah, so, I don't fit in over there. Does anyone know of a movement that actively combines resistance to patriarchy, capitalism, and ecocide from the Buddhist perspective that these things spring forth from greed, hate, and delusion, which cause the suffering we see in our world? 

Maybe Buddhist Peace Fellowship will be nice. But who cares, really. Feminist or male ally, I think back to last month as me and my friend Claudia waited to be arrested. There was a calm as we wrote the Know Your Rights hotline on our hands with big black markers; Feminist or not, we didn’t feel so separate then. The gravity of big men in black armor suits with practical baseball bats brought together the IWW, Idle No More, Earth Sangha, some socialists, some anarchists, and our little contingent of robe wearing Ecosattvas from a Zen temple in the hills, aged 20-70. As we were rounded up, these titles fell away. Elbow to elbow, sweating on hot black pavement, wishing for sunscreen and water, it didn’t matter, and it sure didn’t matter to the fucking police department as to what faction they should place us with once protesters were zip tied. 

For the record, I'll never call myself feminist again. I agree with Meghan here- it's not for me to decide. And it doesn't really impact my actions. 

May Avolokitsvara lend me her ears so that I might hear more suffering in the world. May Manjushri help me cut through the delusion. May Samanthabhadra give me courage to move toward obstacles. 



Thursday, September 12, 2013

Breaking Bad: Salt, Fat, Sugar.

Biology is a kick! Dopamine, the instinct to chase...the body wanting once rare tastes of salt, fat, and sugar, which are now readily available, even in a Zen temple. Add this to the karmic condition of wanting to alter every experience, and you have a hungry ghost.

Do I even need to mention sex or beer or epic meditative mind states?

So I read the series synopsis of Breaking Bad after watching about three seasons on my lap top. It was my attempt to pour it down the drain. I returned the unfinished DVDs and sat it my room, staring at the carpet. I opened Norman Fisher's Taking Our Places and read about half a page. Bullshit, it can't be this easy. This book is good, but it's not magic.

In Allan Wallace's teaching on meditation, he talks about concentration but warns against turning into orange juice. You don't want to be concentrate. And last night, Sara Tashker, our director and my old farm manager said the mind of a farmer is the mind of a good Zen student. We have to have a soft focus to see what the causes and conditions are and a not knowing mind when you realize that what you thought cause and effect were wasn't much more than perception as deception.

How long will we live our life traveling? What does it take to see our arrival?